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hellobrooklyn t1_j5x7bzz wrote

It was the external tank. They actually painted them to protect that reddish spray insulation from UV until they realized it wasn’t needed. Saved 600lbs that directly translated to more payload. Further removal of unnecessary reinforcements as well as design refinements and material changes resulted in a whopping 18,000lb reduction from the original tank design! 77k—>66k—>58k I only knew about the paint and that later tanks were lighter, but your comment led me down a fun rabbit hole, so thank you!


WACK-A-n00b t1_j5xgxqy wrote

And only lost one shuttle to the foam falling off.

Not bad!


hellobrooklyn t1_j5z5rgf wrote

Foam was shed from the first two flights and every flight thereafter. It’s possible paint could’ve helped keep the big chunks from separating, but it’s also possible even larger chunks could’ve come off. What’s certain is that shedding debris near fragile tiles with zero redundancy was a terrible combo and a numbers game that Columbia’s crew eventually lost, so your point is definitely valid..